I first came across barrier crosswords in Prof. Pauline Gibbons’ excellent book ‘English Learners: Academic Literacy and Thinking’ which is available on Amazon by clicking on this link.
Any barrier activity is a good activity for EAL learners and a barrier crossword is no different.
Here is how barrier crosswords work:
Student A has vocabulary words going across
Student B has vocabulary words going down.
They take it in turns to give their partner clues about one of their vocabulary words. The learner that is guessing can ask questions for clarification purposes. When a vocabulary word has been guessed swap roles.
For this to work, you will need to choose words that your learners are familiar with probably from a topic that they have just learnt about.
For EAL learners that are New to English / Beginners you might also want to include some scaffolding in the form of sentence frames to help them with guessing their partners words.